College Dorm Room Essentials (Ultimate Guide)

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Looking for the ultimate list of college dorm room essentials? Here is everything you could need for a successful experience!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the whole college dorm room experience this post is for you! It’s full of all the resources you’ll need to have an amazing next chapter.

Being a visual person I know seeing everything in one spot can be super helpful. Whether you’re looking for dorm decor, ideas, or essentials it’s all here.

They say the best way to overcome fear is through it. That said take a deep breath and baby steps towards your goal of getting that college education!

This post contains A LOT of awesome information so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

This post is all about the best college dorm room essentials.

READ MORE>>> Room Inspiration On Inspired Design Talk

college dorm room collage pink bedding, white, bedding, grey bedding

College Dorm Room Essentials

This round-up is meant to help you navigate all the information that has been covered previously on the blog. Under each board, there are product links and a button to read more.

If you’re early in the process and have time I’d encourage you to continue reading. Create your own dorm room essentials list or download the one below to get started.

Use the table of contents to navigate each topic included. Come back to this resource as often as you’d like as you move through the process.

Topics included are:

  • College Dorm Room Decor Essentials
  • Amazon, Bed Bath, and Beyond, Target, and Walmart Dorm Essentials
  • Dorm Bedding Essentials
  • College Dorm Packages
  • Dorm Bathroom Essentials
  • Best Dorm Desk Essentials
  • College Dorm Cleaning Supplies
  • Dorm Laundry Essentials
  • Best Dorm Kitchen Essentials
  • Dorm Travel Essentials
  • Best College Tech Essentials
  • Dorm Vlogging Essentials
  • College Dorm Extras
  • Dorm Room At Home Decor

College Decor

Creative people or those who love interior design will want to start with dorm room decor. This is where we started when my daughter was going to Hawaii Pacific University.

Since it was during the Big C it was super helpful for her to have an image of how the room would look. To start she pulled three images from Pinterest of the vibe she was after.

Then we got to work pulling the design together. The first piece we found was the ocean tapestry which was used to create the color palette.

She wanted a neutral design with pops of navy blue. If you want to create a similar look check out the links below for everything we ordered.

Ocean Theme Dorm Room

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I might make a small commission at no extra charge to you. Please read my full disclosure here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

college dorm room bedroom ideas collage

Below is the video my daughter sent after she finished putting the room together. Since her college is in Hawaii we ordered 95% of the items from Amazon.

She brought the Target bedding in her suitcase and some decor was from Urban Outfitters. Everything looked amazing but we did learn she is not a white duvet person.

It turned color by the end of the year since she NEVER washed it. ugg!

Monochromatic College Dorm Room

college apartment decor collage

After the first year, my daughter moved off-campus and we repeated the process for the room she rented in a house. The above design was created from a combination of Amazon and Target furniture and decor.

The artwork was from Etsy and the retro swirls added a fun vibe to the otherwise monochromatic design. Below is a video of that completed space.

For this project, I did fly to Hawaii to help her put the room together. If you’ll be off-campus make sure to order a tool kit because it will come in handy.

Tool Set

Neutral College Decor

black and gray college dorm room bedroom ideas

The above design was where we started before we tweaked it into the final product. I share this with you so you know it’s okay to pivot and have fun.

As you shop you’ll get new ideas you’ll want to incorporate into the design. It’s perfectly normal and encouraged!

College Dorm Room Shopping

Shopping for college is an exciting but overwhelming process. There are literally so many things to think of and essentials to buy for college.

Here are the best places to buy dorm stuff for 2024.

  1. Amazon
  2. Walmart
  3. Target
  4. Urban Outfitters
  5. The Container Store
  6. Ikea
  7. Etsy
  8. Overstock
  9. Red Bubble
  10. SHEIN
  11. DormCo
  12. Dormify

You may be familiar with many of these places to get college dorm stuff but may not have heard of the niche shops. Both DormCo and Dormify focus on all things dorm rooms which is great because it’s one-stop shopping.

College planning doesn’t have to be stressful. The secret is to plan as much ahead of time as possible.

Having been through this before I know four years goes fast so enjoy the journey!

For any parents reading this please remember you are essentially paying for an experience. Yes, your child will get an education but they also need to grow and have fun as people too.

Let them figure it out. Then at the end of the four years, you’ll be that much closer to having an ADULT child which is the goal. NO?!

As long as my daughter graduates with a bachelor’s degree, in a major of her choice, and enjoys the ride we are good! Look at it this way… You pay for daycare at the start of the journey and then again at the end. Ha Ha!!

That’s my thoughts and opinion on the subject anyway.

Amazon Dorm Essentials

college dorm room from amazon collage

Amazon is an awesome choice for dorm essentials for girls and guys. As mentioned above when my daughter started her college journey at HPU we ordered almost EVERYTHING from Amazon.

It made the process go smoothly since we planned ahead and ordered all at once. By doing this everything came within a week and she was able to put the room together quickly.

Head to the post for more details about the Amazon dorm essentials.

Target Dorm Room Essentials

target dorm essentials round up

Target is a great place to shop for dorm room essentials. They literally have everything you’ll need. My daughter even does her food shopping at Target in Hawaii.

The best part is there’s usually a store near campus. You can either order and pick it up or shop in person. They have super affordable furniture that’s great for college students.

Quite often the furniture only needs to last a few years so no need to get fancy. Just keep in mind the pieces will come in a box and you’ll need to put them together yourself.

As long as you follow the steps listed you’ll have no problem. If anything is missing you may have to buy a new one, take the part, and then return the item.

That was our experience when a handle was missing from one of the nightstands. Other than that the experience was simple and smooth.

Shop the post for more details on the resources above.

Walmart Dorm Essentials

walmart dorm essentials collage

Walmart is by far the most cost-effective on-trend resource for college shopping. Depending on how close it is to campus it’s usually an option for food shopping too.

They have all the dorm room essentials you’ll need and are one of the most affordable places to shop. Click the link above for more information.

College Dorm Room Bedding List

dorm bedding essentials

1. twin xl sheet sets // 2. machine-washable pillows // 3. full-size comforter // 4. full-size duvet cover // 5. fuzzy throw/blanket // 6. quilted mattress pad // 7. egg crate pad // 8. bed bug mattress protector // 9. pillow protectors

One of the first places to start dorm planning is bedding. That literally was the only thing my daughter took with her from NY.

As long as you have clothes and a bed you’ll be ok as you settle in. One thing every college student needs is a mattress topper.

Most dorm beds are not super comfortable but when you add the topper they’re fabulous! Since many students use the mattress it’s best to cover it with a mattress protector.

Pillows should be protected as well so they last longer. As the cover gets worn down just buy a new one and you’ll always have a clean pillow.

Dorm Bedding List:

Based on all the research here is what we have narrowed the options down to:

  • 2 twin XL sheet sets
  • 2 extra fluffy machine-washable pillows
  • full-size comforter (you may want twin XL)
  • full-size duvet cover (you may want twin XL)
  • Fuzzy throw/blanket
  • quilted mattress pad twin XL
  • egg crate pad twin xl
  • bed bug mattress protector twin XL
  • pillow protectors 


  • Bed Pillows (optional)
  • Backrest (optional)
  • Bed Skirt
  • Head Board
  • Bed Skirt
  • Clip Lamp & Light Bulbs
  • Fan
  • Bed Shelf

Shop the post for more details on the list above.

College Dorm Packages

dorm packages collage

There are so many individual items college freshmen need that sometimes it’s easier to purchase a bundle instead.

When my son Quimes went to Marist we purchased his bedding and towels through the college. I have to say it was so much easier than picking individual items. He picked the color scheme he wanted, which was green, we ordered and that was it!

For my daughter, we did the opposite and ordered things separately from Amazon. You know what they say boys and girls are different. That’s been my experience anyway.

Not all colleges offer package bundles through the school but don’t worry they’re available online. If you have a child who prefers the ease and speed of packages then you’ll love the ones I found.

From bedding to snacks to towels there’s a package for all your needs.

Dorm Bathroom Essentials

dorm bathroom essentials

If you’re wondering what dorm bathroom essentials you’ll need I’ve got you covered. Even if you’re sharing a bathroom there are many must-have items.

Aside from the towels, caddy, and flip-flops, there are also all the cute bathroom decor items you’ll want too. Just remember to coordinate with your roommate so you don’t duplicate.

Must Have Bathroom List

  • all-cotton bath towels, 27”x50” (2)
  • matching cotton hand towels (2)
  • matching cotton washcloths (2)
  • oversized bath sheet
  • hamper
  • Shower tote/caddy
  • flip flops
  • wastebasket
  • bath rug
  • robe
  • waterproof speaker 


  • shower curtain, liner, ring
  • soap dish

The above bathroom concept was for the on-campus dorm bathroom. When my daughter moved off campus she changed the vibe and got new decor.

She split up from her first-year roommates so she had to replace the things they’d bought anyway.

College Bathroom Decor

black and white college apartment bathroom collage

Not all off-campus housing has an ensuite bathroom but my daughter’s room does. It even has a washer and dryer!

When it comes to the bathroom design there’s a limited amount of updates you can make especially on a tight budget. In the case of this bathroom design, the decor, and artwork were updated to freshen the look.

The color palette was kept the same black and white as the bedroom design for consistency. This was a super quick and effective bathroom update that can be done in a day!

College Dorm Room Desk Essentials

dorm desk essentials collage

One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated to be productive is with a clean organized work area. Having items that are pretty and functional is even better!

There are so many cute products for your desk that’ll enhance your college experience. If you’re like most students you look forward to new school supplies.

There’s nothing better than the feeling of opening your new day planner or setting up your workspace. The best way to thrive in college is with cool desk supplies that make you happy.

When your work environment is positive you’re more likely to put in the hard work to get that A!

What do you need for your college desk?

The most important things you need for your college desk are:

  • Day Planner/ Calendar
  • Desk Lamp
  • Stapler and Staples
  • Garbage Can
  • Storage Solutions
  • Pen Holder
  • Electronic Organizer
  • Pens Pencils

These are the basics that’ll set you up for a successful college experience. Remember work hard play harder!

How can I make my dorm desk look better?

Most colleges provide your dorm desk and it’s pretty boring. That said the best way to make your dorm desk look better is will cute accessories and decor.

It’ll show your personality and creativity not to mention they’ll make you happy! If you are anxious about being away from family and friends a pretty desk area will make you feel at home.

College Tech Essentials

college tech essentials collage

When it comes to college planning the college tech essentials should be at the top of the list. Without these, you won’t have a successful college experience.

While you probably don’t need every single thing on the list there are quite a few you’ll want.

College Vlogging Essentials

gifts for vloggers collage

Going away to college will be a memorable experience. One way to remember the journey is to “document the process” as Gary Vee says.

If you’re looking to start a vlog and YouTube channel there are some basics you’ll need. From the best camera to a tripod to software this roundup has it all.

Click the link to get more information on the awesome resources.

College Dorm Room Cleaning Supplies

dorm cleaning supplies for freshman

One of the many new skills college students will have to learn is the art of cleaning. Mommy will not be there to clean up the mess so they’ll have to learn to clean up after themselves.

The funny thing about roommates is there’s usually one who’s a clean freak who whips everyone else into shape. Naturally, my daughter didn’t get along so well will that roommate LOL.

Dorm Laundry List

laundry college dorm room

1. Laundry Basket With Divider // 2. Pop-up Hamper // 3. Hamper with Handles // 4. Target Laundry Bag // 5. Drying Rack // 6. Steamer // 7. Iron // 8. Iron Board // 9. Step Stool

No matter where you’re living you’ll need laundry essentials. My daughter has a lot of spandex cheer clothes that don’t go in the dryer.

Before she ordered the drying rack she’d spread her workout clothes all over the room. Luckily her roommate was on the Acro & Tumbling team so she understood.

Since not everyone will be understanding get the dryer rack and store it in a closet when not in use.

Best Dorm Kitchen Essentials

dorm kitchen essentials list

The best way to get through the college packing stage is with a plan. This round-up of kitchen essentials is everything you might need.

While some students will share a dorm room others will have an apartment-style loft. Depending on your school you may or may not need this entire list.

Make sure to check the college website for any forbidden items. The worst thing is to buy a bunch of stuff you’re not allowed to bring.

What do you need for a dorm kitchen?

A few things that are must-haves are the mini-fridge, microwave, Keurig, Brita water filter, utensils, dinnerware, and glasses. At a minimum, these will get used.

Nice extras would be the rice cooker, blender, tea kettle, and cookbooks. The Yeti is also a staple and reminder to drink water. From personal experience, my daughter lives for her yeti and carries it with her everywhere.

Travel Items

college packing check list ny to hawaii

large suitcase // school backpack // large backpack // large duffel bag // TSA approved locks // medium duffel bag // large yeti // scale

If you are traveling by plane for college you have to be very strategic with your packing. It’s not just about bringing clothes and hair products.

Everything above is what my daughter brought with her from NY to Hawaii. She packed her clothes and bedding in the bags. The rest of her room decor was ordered from Amazon.

Best Dorm Extras

dorm room extras collage

1. Tool Kit // 2. First Aid Kit // 3. Umbrella // 4. Safe // 5. Sewing Kit // 6. Flashlight / 7. Batteries

These dorm extras are the things you’ll be grateful to have when you need them. Many must-haves in my opinion but if you’re on a budget shop over time.

Awareness is key so just know you might need these in the future.

Dorm Room At Home

While many students go away some decide to stay home. Some students prefer the remote learning experience over the in-person.

My daughter is one of them. Since she’s on a sports team she gets the social aspect there and has no desire to take classes on campus.

As the saying goes to each his/her own.

If you decide to stay home and have the opportunity for a room makeover these two designs will inspire you.

Neutral College Bedroom

dorm room at home neutral bedroom

This college bedroom design has a neutral color palette with a pop color of pink. The metal of choice is silver but that can be changed out for gold.

Patterns, texture, and artwork all add personality to this space. When designing with a neutral color base it’s very easy to update the accent color if you want in the future.

Adding metal elements, crystal, and fur textures all add dimension to the design. The bed is the focal point in this space and that fandoleir is the jewelry!

Boho Glam Dorm Room

boho glam dorm bedroom

Again just because a student has chosen to stay home doesn’t mean they should miss out on that newly designed dorm room experience. A fresh new space will ensure students have a productive and positive college experience.

Many themes can be used as a jumping-off point for your new bedroom design. A trending style is Bohemian Room decor. It’s a fun way to add personality to your space.

There are many colors, textures, and patterns in this popular style. Whether you are commuting from home, living in the dorm, or off-campus this room design is meant to inspire you.

I hope this post is super helpful as you navigate the college dorm room experience. Happy shopping!!

This post is all about the best college dorm room essentials.

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Last Updated on December 11, 2023 by Nicole DelaCruz

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